A New Love: Meeting Monk

A New Love: Meeting Monk

In 1987, my beautiful English cocker died of liver cancer. He was 14 years old. He left me shortly after my mother’s death, the death of my dearest cousin, and in the midst of my divorce. To say the least, it was a difficult year. I was single in New York City, working for peanuts at a nonprofit and trying to finish a master’s degree. I lived in a fourth-floor walk-up, and my dog could no longer make it up the stairs. I was also very poor. The thought of getting another dog, as much as I had loved this one, was beyond consideration.

I mourned Troubles for many years, twenty to be exact. Every dog I met would launch me into the story of my deceased English cocker. People listened politely, even sympathetically, until they would finally ask, “Why don’t you get another dog?”

 I’m both surprised and not so surprised that the answer didn’t come to me sooner. We can always see these things in others before we can see them in ourselves. I had taken the lost critter into my very soul and could therefore not mourn him in order to accept loving a new one.

But I was fortunate. I did remarry and to someone who has a strong capacity for love. And one day, while waiting for Chinese food, I wandered into Watermelon Mountain Ranch and found Django, another love of my life. He was just one year old, and we lived happily ever after, or the ever after of his dog life, just nine more years. To our heartbreak, Django died of hemangiosarcoma on Dec. 28, 2020. Combined with COVID-19 and the unrelated death of a very dear friend, this was another tough year.

I was about to make the same mistake of waiting. I announced that if ever, it would be at least one year before we would even think of getting another dog. My husband watched me cry at Westminster, commercials with dogs, movies with dogs, real dogs outside, and of course, photos of dogs. One morning at breakfast, as I again burst into tears, he simply said, “We could move up the date.”

There have been these moments when patients have told me that something I said very simply unlocked and released them in ways I could not have predicted. This is exactly what these few words did for me. My unconscious said, well, you don’t have to wait. It is only because you loved Django so much that you want another dog.

I began to contact foster folks and no-kill rescues. One of the foster people suggested that I go online and look at the dogs at the Bernalillo County rescue. As soon as I saw Mr. Nubbins, I showed my husband the photo. Mr. Nubbins was four years old, a bit older than we’d planned, but he was another blue heeler mix, an Australian cattle dog. We decided to at least meet him and see what we felt and what he felt.

Almost like my first meeting with Django (whose shelter name had been Shelman), it was love at first sight. The next thing I  knew, I was calling our groomer and our vet and making appointments for him. We picked him up on my birthday and decided to name him Monk, for Thelonious Monk, the jazz pianist and composer. This is a tradition with our neighbors and dear friends whose dogs are all named for musicians. Django was named for Django Reinhardt, the French Gypsy guitarist. The other night, Monk had his first social outing with us and attended his first seder. His behavior was exemplary. Everyone loved him. We cannot imagine how this beautiful and loving creature ended up in a shelter, but we feel so fortunate, once again, to have found such a terrific being. Monk is my third rescue dog and my husband’s second. We would never consider doing it any other way.

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